Fun Library Activities & Games

Games will help children feel at home in your library.

Learning the way around the library can be daunting for the unfamiliar. Library games can help encourage children to feel comfortable in this otherwise often intimidating environment. Whether you are helping familiarize kids with the library in a school or public library setting, you can use activities and games to encourage children to feel comfortable utilizing the library’s resources.

1 Library Jeopardy

Library Jeopardy is a game played in teams with the purpose of reviewing important library terms and information. Make a list of the questions you feel your students need to review and insert them into a PowerPoint presentation if you wish to utilize a technological approach; otherwise you can make a game board using index cards with point values on the front and questions on the back hung on a board. Students select a category and point value, just like in the game show Jeopardy, and one member of the team buzzes in when he thinks he knows the answer. The team may discuss for a few seconds after the buzzer sounds and then gives its final answer to the moderator. Correct answers receive the allotted point value and incorrect answers cost the team the same point value. The questions you use will depend on the age and skill level of the children playing.

Prompts you might include would be: "The way fiction books are organized" (what is alphabetically), "The name of the bound edge of a book" (what is the spine), "The numerical system by which all library books are categorized" (what is the Dewey decimal system), "If you write a book about your own life, it would be found in this department of the library" (what are autobiographies).

2 Glad Book Sad Book

Glad Book Sad Book teaches children how to treat library materials and reinforces how to properly care for books and how to behave in a library. Tape happy and sad faces to a cube the children will roll. Have the children take turns rolling the cube. If a student rolls a happy face, she should provide one example of a way to care for a library book or one way that a person should behave in the library. If the student rolls a sad face, he should give an example of a way to mistreat a library book or a way a person might behave poorly in a library. Create a game board with a finish line and advance each team’s token with every example of happy or sad books they provide, or just play until the time allowed has elapsed or students are out of examples.

3 Theme Weeks

To encourage students to read books on all different subjects, feature a different theme each week or month. Base activities for that month on the theme you select. Set up a story time to read your favorite children’s book on that subject aloud to help interest even the youngest library patrons. Set up themes to correspond to pop culture events or holidays. Your patrons are sure to love an ocean theme to go along with shark week. Consider setting up library trivia scavenger hunts to fit with your themes and have students submit answers to questions with a book title and page number where a specific fact about that subject can be found. Hunts like these will encourage students' research abilities as well as introduce them to parts of the library they may not have ventured into before.

4 Huey and Louie Meet Dewey

This game will teach your young patrons where to find books on different subjects in the library using the Dewey decimal system. Give your students each a copy of a guide to the Dewey decimal classification system so that they may reference it throughout the activity. The scenario is that two boys, Huey and Louie, knocked over a cart of new books and the librarian expects them to help her organize them so that future readers can find them. Use the worksheet provided by Education World and have your students write down the order of the books in question as well as where they would fall in the Dewey decimal categorization system.

Based in Austin, Texas, Carrie Burns has been writing professionally since 2004, primarily ghostwriting corporate white papers and reviewing local theater productions. She has also spent time devising new works with cutting-edge theater ensembles. Burns holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.